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Storytelling for Business: Do You Have a Story to Tell?

Thursday, January 12, 2012 | Posted by to Online Marketing Tips

Corporate storytelling is no small feat. But telling the company story is key to online success. The internet is a giant web of conversations. It’s people talking to people, and the most engaging conversations tell stories.

We know this yet when we sit down to write our company about page or the boilerplate for a press release, the storytelling and conversation disappear. We are left with uninteresting factoids.

Storytelling is important. It builds understanding, emotional connections and develops relationships. All things companies want. So don’t forfeit the conversation. The stories we tell through conversation give people a reason to retell our company story, to talk about our ideas, to share.

Organizational Storytelling: How do you find something interesting to talk about?

Start by understanding the stories that are most engaging. These are the ones that recur throughout history:

1. Overcoming the Monster (learning and dealing with a threat)

2. Rags to Riches (going from nothing to everything)

3. The Quest (Hello Frodo. Desperately seeking something, often with companions)

4. Voyage and Return (triumph over madness and a return to stability)

5. Comedy (experience without consequence)

6. Tragedy (the spiral into darkness)

7. Rebirth (the spiral into darkness but wait ... there’s the light)

These 7 basic plots of storytelling can be used to create your company vision, value proposition, messaging and elevator pitch. It’s all about finding a point of view that is interesting.

In my experience there are 9 corporate storytelling themes that get people talking and listening (thanks to the book Beyond Buzz for twigging me to this). I keep these in mind when I’m writing an organization’s About page, press releases or blog articles.

1. Anxieties (what is the audience concerned about, how does this product or service address those fears)

2. Contrarian (is there a controversy that should be addressed)

3. Personal stories (how can I give a personal voice to the story, what human-interest points are there)

4. Counterintuitive (can I pull back the curtain to reveal that things are not as they seem)

5. David vs. Goliath (are we a small player pitted against a giant, and are likely to win)

6. Aspirational (what’s the big hairy audacious goal)

7. Avalanche about to roll (nobody likes to miss out on something big, how can I convey that in the organizational story)

8. How to (what are the practical steps or lessons to impart)

9. Glitz and glam (is there a celebrity angle, a wow factor)

Spend a couple of minutes today and think about what view point or basic plot resonates most with your company story, then go rewrite that terribly bland About page.

  

Monique Sherrett

Monique used to be allergic to all fish and was cured by Chinese medicine doctor Debra Gibson (not the pop singer). This is inconsequential to marketing or technology but does mean that she can attend client lunches without being picky about the menu options. See more posts by Monique Sherrett. You can also find her marketing tips on Twitter and YouTube.

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Comments

Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 10:24 am

John Wellwood says:

Terrific synthesis of some pretty vast, complex concepts.

The organizational stories arising through conversation that you mention are incredibly rich. Those water cooler moments hold more promise than we thought.

Thanks for joining us last night.

John

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 at 3:44 am

christian comedy says:

I would always prefer someone telling me the story rather than reading it. When you are reading about something you do not get the emotional connections which is the main part of corporate story telling.

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